Return To Play (RTP) Protocol - PHASE 5

Phase 5


Environmental Context.  Competition facilities are open, any local restrictions allow for a gathering size that would accommodate all players, coaches, referees, facility staff and spectators in attendance, and there are otherwise no local guidelines or restrictions that would preclude travel to, or participation in, youth soccer competition. (Clubs may consider limiting spectator attendance in one way or another if open attendance may result in numbers above gathering size limitations.)

Any individual reporting or demonstrating symptoms of illness at any point should be removed from competition (or restricted from competition) and should seek guidance from his or her healthcare provider before returning to soccer activities.

PRIOR TO COMPETITION, staff should obtain confirmation that:

  • Each player, coach, and referee should check his/her temperature at home, and refrain from participation if he or she has a fever (≥100.4 degrees F).
  • All coaches, players, referees, and other attendees should be monitoring for symptoms at home to ensure that:
  1. He/she has not had any close contact with a sick individual or anyone with a confirmed case of COVID-19 (see Appendix C);
  2. He/she has not had a documented case of COVID-19 in the last 14 days;
  3. He/she is not currently demonstrating or suffering from any ill symptoms (see Appendix A).
  4. Any individual who is unable to confirm these criteria should be restricted from participation and contact both their club and their healthcare provider.
  • These criteria should be confirmed on arrival as follows:
  1. Each participating player should confirm that they have met the above requirements of no known symptoms or exposures with the lead coach of their team.
  2. The lead coach from each participating team should confirm with the lead coach of the opposing team that all participating players and staff have met the above requirements of no known symptoms or exposures.
  3. All referees should confirm individually with both lead coaches that all referees have met the above requirements of no known symptoms or exposures.
  4. Any individual who is unable to confirm these criteria should be restricted from participation and contact their healthcare provider.


  • Soccer play can be conducted as normal with the following exceptions:
  1. Team pre-game and post-game handshakes should be avoided.
  2. Handshakes or contact in substitution should be avoided.
  3. Physical contact should be avoided during celebrations and post-game activities.
  4. Social distancing should be ensured between players and coaches on the sideline during play and during any individual or group conversations throughout the competition (pre-game, half-time, post-game).
  5. No player, coach, or spectator should violate social distancing guidelines with a referee at any time.
  6. Player pass cards should be handled only by the coach of the team and should be disinfected after the game. (Referees should be shown the player pass cards in check-in, but not handle the cards.) Referees should track player substitutions with their own notes and should not collect player pass cards.
  7. Staff pass cards should only be handled by the staff member to whom it belongs. (Referees should be shown the staff pass card in check-in, but not handle the cards.) Referees should note the staff passcard was checked on the game report and add all sideline staff member names to the report.
  8. Use of masks or cloth facial coverings by staff and players on the sideline should be guided by local or national guidelines regarding public use.
  9. Players on the sideline or bench should remain socially distanced (6 feet apart) – including during pre-game, half-time, and post-game discussions.
  10. International walk-outs should not be held.
  • All attendees should always maintain social distancing guidelines during arrival and departure from competition.
  • Spectators should remain off the field, practice proper social distancing, and utilize masks or cloth facial coverings throughout the event in accordance with local and national guidelines.
  • In the event of an injury, staff may assess and facilitate management of the injured individual in accordance with proper first aid management.  Family members and any on-site healthcare providers may participate in injury management as necessary, but others should maintain proper social distance.
  • It is recommended that participating clubs keep an attendance record of coaches and staff for all competitions to allow for optimized case reporting and contact tracing. (NOTE: ECNL rules require all match-reports to be submitted to the ECNL office digitally. Each match report should include all players and staff that were in attendance and on the bench.)


  • Clubs should have contact information for the lead staff member from each club that they have competed against prior to departure from the facility. Ideally this should be a designated staff member responsible for COVID-19 related matters within each club as outlined above.
  • Clubs should communicate with the referee assignor (or other appropriate individual) to ensure that referees for each game are documented and the referee assignor has contact information for all referees.
  • Any individual with a confirmed case of COVID-19 should notify their respective clubs immediately.
  • Any referee with a confirmed case of COVID-19 should notify any clubs involved in competitions worked by that individual within the last 14 days.
  • Any club notified of a confirmed case of COVID-19 in a player, staff member, or referee should notify any other organization involved in competition with that individual in the 14 days prior to the diagnosis of COVID-19.


  • Team areas should be separated from spectators and each other so that teams and attendees will not touch the same surfaces (benches, for example).
  • Shared surfaces, soccer balls, discs, and any other equipment should be disinfected before and after each game.
  • Training vests can be shared between team members, but this should be minimized or eliminated if possible. Vests should be washed before and after each day of use.
  • Players and referees should bring their own equipment (hand sanitizer, water bottle, towels, etc.) that should not be shared between individuals.
  • Equipment used by staff (cones, for example) should not be handled by players or other attendees and should be disinfected after use.
  • Shared “hydration stations” should be eliminated, and players and staff should bring their own water or other hydration.


  • Member organizations and host facilities should have procedures in place for the management of medical emergencies during any event, including but not limited to COVID-19.
  • Hand sanitizer should be readily available at all training grounds and facilities. Each coach, player and referee should have their own hand sanitizer.  Players and coaches should disinfect their hands prior to and immediately after every competition and after any contact with a shared surface.
  • All surfaces that individuals may contact when entering and leaving the facility (gates, doorknobs, etc.) should be disinfected prior to, regularly during, and at the end of the event. When possible, gates / doors should remain open to reduce contact with potentially contaminated surfaces.